Dataquest had a chance to catch up with Nick Lazaridis, â€ŽSenior Vice President, Printing & Personal Systems - Asia Pacific & Japan at Hewlett-Packard, recently at HP's annual Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas. Nick shared a number of details about HP's PPS business and how it stands in the entire APAC region including India. Nick also shed light on the company's new partner strategy and why HP's emphasizing on the inkjet printers.
What is HP's PPP strategy for Asia, particularly India?
In APAC, HP has witnessed a robust growth and has had a couple of very good quarters. In India we have seen a robust growth, specifically in the government space. We bagged a good amount of business from the Uttar Pradesh government for about 1.5 million notebooks. While the deal was centred around affordable laptops, this helped us maintain the number one position in the PC market in India. Destops, notebooks and printers are contributing to the company's success in the region, especially post the 'One HP' positioning.
The "One HP" message, which is loud and clear within the group, is helping company improve its image in the market and gain customer confidence. This has formed a thread within all groups of the entire organization simplifying the way we approached customers.
How did you change your partner program? Is it true that partners get paid now from the very first sale they do?
Historically channel partner programs have been very complex. But we embarked upon a simple and easy program that helps partners sell. As part of the strategy, we launched a number of partner programs in APAC and India to send the One HP message across and trained the partner fraternity to serve customers well.
Yes, the entire HP group has adopted a new partner strategy, removing all sales cap. They don't have to sell x-number of units to be eligible to earn benefits. Historically all vendors including HP used to put a cap of sales. Now partners get paid from the very first sale they do.
What has been the reponse of this partner strategy? How do partners preceive the new strategy?
Indeed, the partners have embraced the change happily, since they are focused on selling products and not just meeting targets to be able to receive the benefits of a scheme. The effect of this is that other vendors have also embarked on the same journey, which shows how HP has innovated on the partner front.
How do you communicate the One HP message to your partners and so to your customers? How does it help the PPS group?
It is quite challenging to develop experts in each product area. HP has strong desktop, laptop, printer and server line. To make it easy for our partners to supply the right kind of products for all customer needs, we have appointed a Partner Business Manager who helps partners in addressing their needs. Through PBM, we try to provide subject matter experts who can guide customers on a variety of products and services that we deliver. The idea is not to sell a box. We try to take this further from transactional discussion to solution-based discussion.
What are the verticals HP is betting big in India?
Commercial enterprise segment is a huge focus area. Government is another area which we are focusing. But the approach is different in the government segment, maybe because of the regulatory framework. Government education segment is another area where we see a lot of potential and chances of demand.
Will HP continue to jump into government deals such as the Uttar Pradesh laptop deal?
It continues to excite HP since the company is committed to giving back to society through affordable devices to students, though it is not absolute charity. We see there is a lot of opportunity in the deals like this but not every deal makes sense. We sensed a good partnership in the UP deal that is the reason we plan to extend this relationship further.
What's your approach towards SMBs in India?
We're empowering our channel to serve the SMB segment. We have started a channel program SMB Connect to increase our footprint in the SMB space. This segment is largely ignored and reserves a huge opportunity. Since the technology penetration is quite low in the SMB space, we are committed to tap this huge segment. But we are laser-focused on SMB channel to tap this segment in India.
Of late, HP is emphasizing a lot on inkjet printers rather than lasers? Why?
HP is number one printers in India and globally, for last twenty five years. And in these years, laser technology has led the market since it was the best technology available. But we have tried not to sell printers the traditional way and are trying to make customers experience better through solutions wheich are affordable and best for them. In order to do this, we are leveraging the inkjet technology to deliver better solutions to customers, since our inkjet printers are at par with laser printers, if not better, in terms of performace and quality. Our officejet range is helping customers take the advantage of inkjet technology that delivers prints at much afforable prices than lasers can. Our inkjet printers can offer speeds of upto 72 pages per minute at half the cost and that too, with same quality. So the laser technology which we led the market for about twenty five years is getting tough competition from inkjet. Since it is an afforadable option, we are helping customers to own solutions that can reduce cost for the laser quality.
In order to make inkjet a successful option in the Indian market, we launched a service to deliver HP ink at the customer door.
Has laser hit the roadblock?
It has not. But it is not possible to offer double the speed in laser at half the cost. But it is possible with inkjet and that too, with print quality at par with laser. The growth in technology seems to stagnate a little but we continue to focus on laser. Inkjet is like electric cars which are the future. It will take sometime for customers to adopt. But this is the future.